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The 10 Best (And 10 Worst) Legend of Zelda Items

Over its 35-year lifespan, one thing the Zelda series has kept constant is all the cool gadgets and tools you get to solve puzzles and problems…

What are the best items in the Legend of Zelda series?

Over its 35-year lifespan, one thing The Legend of Zelda series has kept constant is all the great gadgets and tools you acquire to solve puzzles and overcome obstacles. Zelda’s roster of gadgets has gotten pretty big in its 3 decade-plus run.

But not all tools are created equal. Some of them are clearly better than others in terms of design, usability, uniqueness, and straight-up badassness. Some have remained as series mainstays while some only got a one-off appearance in a singular title. So we are going to take a look at the 10 best (and 10 worst) tools and items in the Zelda series and see which ones are our favorites.

10 (Best): Boomerang
(First Appearance: Legend of Zelda – 1986)

The Boomerang has been one of Link’s most trusted tools since its first appearance way back in the first Zelda title in 1986 and has become a series mainstay since. For many, the boomerang was the very first special tool obtained in the game, after the sword and shield. The boomerang is usually one of the first items that Link picks up on his journey, like the boomerang in Hyrule Castle in Link to the Past and the Gale Boomerang in the Forest Temple in Twilight Princess.

The boomerang is super useful because, in most of its incarnations, it can stun enemies and open a window to get some quick hits. The ranged nature of the boomerang means that you can use it to pick at foes from afar before you obtain the bow. Some games in the series also feature the Magical Boomerang upgrade which adds more damage, range, or remote controlling.

10 (Worst): Spinner
(First Appearance: Twilight Princess – 2006)

The spinner is simultaneously one of the most interesting and one of the worst items in the Zelda franchise. The basic idea of the Spinner is actually really cool. It’s a top-like mechanism with gear teeth that Link can ride on like a little hoverboard. The technological design contrasts well with the not-too-high-tech world of Hyrule.

The main problem with the Spinner is how little you use it. Aside from the dungeon where you find it and a handful of places in the overworld map, you never really use the Spinner to do anything. Clearly, Nintendo didn’t think too highly about this tool as it has not appeared in another game since Twilight Princess in 2006.

If anything, it’s the lost potential that makes the Spinner one of the worst Zelda items. However, it does get some points for its use in what is arguably one of the most unique boss fights of the series.

Water is a common obstacle/hazard in Zelda titles. In the original 1986 title, water was an impassable barrier that you couldn’t cross until you got the raft and later the stepladder. Link to the Past introduced the Zora Flippers and for the first time, Link could more or less freely explore waterways around Hyrule. The hunt to find the flippers in Link to the Past was actually pretty challenging because you don’t really get told where to or what to do.

Future games in the series brought back the Zora Flippers in one way or another. They made a comeback in the GBC Oracle titles and The Minish Cap. Oracle of Ages actually had a cool mermaid suit upgrade that let you do a sustained dive and explore underwater. The flippers themselves have so far been absent in the 3-D titles, but items that serve similar functions have appeared, like the Silver/Golden Scale from Ocarina of Time, the Zora mask from Majoras Mask, and the Zora Armor from Twilight Princess.

9 (Worst): Don Gero’s Mask
(First Appearance: Majora’s Mask – 2000)

A lot of the masks in Major’s Mask could probably make this list. Other than aesthetics, many masks serve only one purpose. But Don Gero’s mask takes the cake. Not only is it just used to get a heart piece, but the quest to do so is so tedious. You have to take the mask to 5 frogs around the world and convince them to come back and sing for you. But, some of the frogs are locked behind dungeon minibosses, so you have to go back in time and play the temples again to complete the quest. All in all, you have to repeat one dungeon boss and two dungeon minibosses to finish the quest. There is nothing inherently wrong with backtracking and replaying old areas in games, but the path is too long and the reward not enough to make it worthwhile in this case.

8 (Best): Beetle
(First Appearance: Skyward Sword – 2011)

2011’s Skyward Sword had its fair share of cool gadgets, but the most unique one was probably the Beetle. Firing off the Beetle lets you pilot it around the air to grab items and hit switches out of your reach. The control and function of the Beetle meshed well with the more open, puzzle-box design of the game’s dungeons. It’s also one of the first special items you get so most players will have plenty of time to get used to it.

Also, the Beetle gets built on nicely with the Hook Beetle upgrade that lets you carry bigger objects. The expanded utility opens up some interesting puzzle sequences in the later dungeons, like grabbing flower buds full of water and using them to douse fires. The Beetle seemed built for the motion-controls of Skyward Sword so it’s unlikely it will pop up in future games. But it would be cool to see a new gadget with the same idea behind it.

8 (Worst): Golden Gauntlets
(First Appearance: Ocarina of Time – 1998)

One theme of the Zelda games is getting stronger. In each game, you are gathering tools, better equipment, and skills to fight stronger opponents and clear obstacles. Ocarina of Time had the bracelet/gauntlet tree that lets you pick up heavier and heavier objects as you gain upgrades. The silver gauntlets let Link heaver boulders over his head to open up a bunch of secrets around Hyrule Field and other areas. So when you reach the Golden Gauntlets all the way in Ganon’s Castle, you might think that these almighty gloves will open up new places and secrets to discover, right?

Nope, they are only used 3 times in the game, twice of which are in the main path and cannot be avoided. The throwing animation for the huge stone pillars is pretty awesome, but it can’t make up for the fact that the Golden Gauntlets are basically a fancy key, and nothing more. To be fair, all the bracelet/gauntlet upgrades function as keys, but the Golden Gauntlets are definitely the least interesting key.

The Cane of Somaria has so far appeared in only two titles, A Link to the Past and Oracle of Ages. At first glance, the item seems rather dull. All it does is create a block right in front of you. But, portable magic blocks can be very useful in some places.

The cool thing about the Cane is how it makes you rethink puzzle solutions. The extra block is another variable you can use to solve puzzles, whether you need something to hold down a switch or block an opening. You can also use the created block to test for invisible platforms and as for platforming in sidescrolling sections (Oracle of Ages only). The way the item makes you think laterally is the hallmark of good item design. The Cane of Somaria does not get nearly enough development it deserves and it hasn’t been present in the series since 2001. But it was a solid concept that would be ripe for reintroduction to the series.

7 (Worst): Ball and Chain
(First Appearance: Twilight Princess – 2006)

Twilight Princess did a lot of things right, but many critics have pointed out that its selection of tools and gadgets was sub-par for series’ standards. The Ball and Chain, which initially looks freakin’ awesome, is quickly made useless after the initial dungeon where you discover it, Snowpeak Ruins. It does get some good use in that dungeon but afterward, it kind of just takes up space in your inventory. The ball and chain can cause some serious damage in combat but it’s normally too slow to be of any real use. If it didn’t kneecap your speed so badly, ot might actually be a cool weapon to wield. However, it’s too large and too ungainly to be effective in combat.

6 (Best): Deku Leaf
(First Appearance: Wind Waker – 2002)

Platforming has always been a less pronounced but still important design element in the Zelda series. Managing your vertical position and navigating hazards through jumping has been a staple of the series since Link first got the ability to jump in Link’s Awakening with the Roc’s Feather and the 3-D series introduced the auto-jump mechanics. Wind Waker introduced the Deku Leaf, a large leaf that you can use to shoot gusts of air and glide to slow your descent.

The real draw of the Deku leaf is how it changes movement and vertical exploration. You can use it to glide over large gaps, break your fall, and cover large distances quickly. The Deku Leaf has also become an important item for speedrunners who can use its floaty physics to bypass obstacles and skip dungeon rooms. Clearly, this design feature is a great choice for the Zelda series as it was brought back in the form of Breath of the Wild‘s paraglider.

6 (Worst): Tree Branch
(First Appearance: Breath of the Wild – 2017)

The tree branch will probably be the first weapon you find in Breath of the Wild and you will quickly realize how much it absolutely sucks ass. The tree branch is not only the weakest weapon in the entire game, but it is also the most fragile. A fresh new stick can only take about 6-7 hits before splintering into a thousand useless bits. In fact, it’s rarely worth actually using it in combat. The only real utility it has is as a makeshift torch when you don’t have a real one.

Nonetheless, tree branches are everywhere in Breath of the Wild so you will often accidentally pick them up and have to waste precious seconds purging them from your inventory. If you ask me, the devs put the effectively useless stick in the game as a joke. Either way, the tree branch is a terrible item and quickly rendered obsolete.

5 (Best) Bombs
(First Appearance: The Legend of Zelda – 1986)

Bombs are one of the most well-known tools in Link’s arsenal and have so far appeared in every title in the series, except for Adventure of Link. The bombs have gone through several iterations but all of them have the same main function: blowing s*** up. Bombs can be used to clear debris, destroy cracked walls to find secrets, and for offense. Bombs are also important in the speedrunning community where they are used for several movement techniques and glitches like bomb hovering and bomb impact launching,

By far though, the coolest iteration of bombs in the series has been bombchus. Introduced in Ocarina of Time, bombchus scurry across the ground and climb walls before they explode on their targets. There are only two times bombchus are required for story progression in Ocarina of Time, so most of the time they are an optional fun weapon.

The Moon Pearl serves exactly one function in A Link to the Past. It keeps you from becoming a weird rabbit creature when you enter the dark world. That’s it, the Moon pearl does absolutely nothing else. The only use it serves is as a kind of McGuffin you have to find before you can properly explore the dark world, which is arguably the best phase of the game.

Even worse, the Moon Pearl is the dungeon item of the Tower of Hera, meaning that the dungeon does not have any cool new tool that lets you explore it more thoroughly. The only thing you get is a shiny rock that doesn’t give you any combat or magic skills. That is pretty lame as far as Zelda dungeon items go.

4 (Best): Double Clawshot
(First Appearance: Twilight Princess – 2006)

The Hookshot is another fan-favorite Zelda tool and has shown up in most games since first appearing in A Link to the Past. This spring-loaded grappling hook latches onto items to pull them toward you or you to them. However, the most badass iteration of the hookshot tool was the double clawshot from Twilight Princess. Found in the final main dungeon, the double clawshot lets you use two clawshots at once for ultimate aerial mobility.

The double clawshot hasn’t shown up in the series since Twilight Princess and it probably won’t. The Hookshot will definitely make a return in some form or another in future titles, but the double clawshot has probably been retired for good. It’s a shame too because you get them too late in the game to really explore their full potential.

4 (Worst) Razor Sword
(First Appearance: Majora’s Mask – 2000)

The sword is Link’s trademark weapon and normally, getting a new sword in a Zelda game is a welcome reward. Then there is the Razor Sword from Majora’s Mask. The Razor Sword is the second sword upgrade but has some fatal flaws that make it pretty useless. First, it can only take 100 hits before reverting to the Kokiri Sword. Second, you have to pay 100 rupees and wait an entire day before you can use it. In a game where time management is key, waiting a full day to use your main weapon is a non-starter.

Lastly, if you revert the three-day cycle, it will turn back into the basic Kokiri Sword. The only way to get a permanent upgrade is to turn the Razor Sword into the Gilded Sword with some Gold Dust. Most of the time, it’s not even worth upgrading to the Razor Sword unless you already have the Gold Dust to immediately turn it into the Gilded Sword. It would be a much better item if there were a quest to permanently upgrade to the Razor Sword then an additional quest for the final sword.

3 (Best): Magnetic Gloves
(First Appearance: Oracle of Seasons – 2001)

The Oracle games often get overlooked by fans. They were the first Zelda games not developed by Nintendo (Capcom made the games), but the Zelda pedigree is certainly there. Oracle of Seasons introduced one of the most inventive Zelda items to date: the Magnetic Gloves. Found in the 5th dungeon, these gloves use magnetic forces to push and pull items as well as drag and push Link to and away from things.

The magnetic gloves took a cool concept and furnished some good puzzles. Some stand out ones involve quickly changing the polarity of the gloves in mid-air between magnets to make it across large gaps and using a magnetic ball to fight the dungeon boss. Magnetism has been used as a power in other entries in the series, like the with the iron boots in Twilight Princess and more recently the Sheikah Slate in Breath of the Wild. But Oracle of Seasons was the first Zelda title to turn this force of nature into a tool at your disposal.

The Adventure of Link is kind of the black sheep of the Zelda family. The second game in the series is played primarily from a sidescrolling perspective and has a more RPG-like progression system than the other games, with experience points and leveling mechanics. Zelda II introduced the candle, the first “lantern” style tool in the series. Unfortunately, the candle doesn’t do much. It literally just lights up dark corridors and doesn’t get used for puzzles or combat at all. You don’t technically even need the candle to beat the game as you can go through the darkened corridors without it if you remember the layout. Untraversable darkness is often a ham-fisted way to block character progression and the candle commits the ultimate cardinal sin of making game progression boring.

2 (Best) Biggoron’s Sword
(First Appearance: Ocarina of Time – 1998)

Trading sequences are a common feature in Zelda games and were first introduced in Link’s Awakening. The point of trading side quests is to exchange a sequence of items, usually to get a special reward at the very end. In Ocarina of Time, the well-deserved award of the arduous trading sequence is the most powerful weapon in the game, the Biggoron’s Sword. The Biggoron’s Sword is even stronger than the legendary, evil-slaying, created-by-a-literal-goddess Master Sword and will quickly decimate your enemies with its strong swings and insanely powerful jump attack.

The cool thing about the Biggoron’s Sword isn’t that it’s an instant-win button but that there are actually some tradeoffs for using it. Since it’s a two-handed sword, you can’t block with your shield when it is drawn. So if you use it, you’ll have to switch up your strategy against enemies with powerful strikes like Stalfos or Wolfos.

2 (Worst): Ordon Shield
(First Appearance: Twilight Princess – 2006)

Dang, we are really hating on Twilight Princess today, aren’t we? The Ordon Shield is the first shield you get in the game and, while it is useful for the first few hours, it is rendered completely obsolete when you get the Hylian Shield before the second dungeon. The Ordon Shield has one fatal flaw: it is made of wood and burns when caught on fire. The Hylian Shield is fireproof and also can reflect magical attacks. So there is absolutely no use to the Ordon Shield once you get the Hylian Shield. Skyward Sword actually gave you a reason to hold on to your wooden shield as they are immune to electrical attacks and metal shields are not. The Ordon Shield gets promptly forgotten though. Bad deal too cause it has a unique design not seen anywhere else in the series.

1 (Best): Bow and Arrows
(First Appearance: The Legend of Zelda – 1986)

Aside from the Master Sword and the Hylian Shield, the bow is probably the single most iconic weapon in Link’s arsenal. It has been present in every game in the series, except for Adventure of Link and the Oracle titles. Ocarina of Time upped the ante by introducing the elemental arrows (fire, ice, and light) and Twilight Princess further improved the bow concept by incorporating bomb arrows (although a glitch in Link’s Awakening effectively let you use bomb arrows).

The bow is easily the best Zelda item due to its combat and puzzle utility. It’s one of the most effective weapons Link has and can be used to activate switches, light torches with fire arrows, and more. More than its utility and versatility, the bow is just a classic, iconic item from the series that perfectly captures the Zelda ethos.

The shovel easily wins the title of Worst Zelda item, mostly because of how little it adds to the game experience. The shovel is never really used for puzzles, combat, or exploration. and side from a few instances, it is just used to find extra items or remove blockages from a path. In the latter case, the shovel is basically just a key. Games should find ways to make progression exciting and rewarding, and the shovel does it in an unremarkable and boring way.

Items and gadgets are a staple of any Zelda title and they are often the best part of the game. What are some of your favorite (and leas favorite) Zelda tools and gadgets? Let us know in the comments below!

Written By

Alex Bolano is a freelance writer based out of St. Louis, MO. When he isn't writing about anime, games, and gaming culture, he is probably eating mac and cheese or having a debate about the cosmology of the Elder Scrolls universe.

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